Friday, September 17, 2010

Fall migration

Credit: Mark Jones, Painted Bunting Observation Team
Realizing that the migration must be well under way, and also being located under a major flyway, I Googled for information about what I could expect to see at my feeders.

I came across the website of the North Carolina based Painted Buntings Observer Team. It's latest blog entry, dated Aug. 31, said that the buntings had already been spotted in north Florida, which is quite a bit earlier than usual. (The redstarts appeared in my garden in August, which is also way earlier than usual; I wonder what they know that we don't?) Anyway, it means that painted buntings should be arriving in South Florida any day, if they're not already here. Time to make sure there's plenty of white millet in the feeders.

(For those who are not familiar with it, the painted bunting, Passerina ciris, is one of the continent's most colorful birds.)

I'd also read somewhere that migrating birds show up on radar, so I asked a friend, a meteorologist at the Miami National Weather Service office, if the NWS ever tracked migrations. His answer was no, however he did say:

"... the Doppler Radar imagery right around sunrise can give you an idea if there's an increase in bird population. There is usually a small ring or circle that expands outward in the area of the Everglades which occurs for about 10-20 minutes in the early morning. If you play a movie or loop of the base reflectivity radar imagery, you'll probably see it."
I got up too late this morning to catch it, but if you are an early bird, pardon the pun, please let me know if you see anything. Don't forget to hit the "refresh" button on the lower right.

12 comments:

NanaK said...

I have been hoping for these in my backyard for years and haven never seen even one. My friend, who lives 2 miles away, has bunches of painted and indigo buntings at her feeders during their time in our area. I'll have to check the content of my birdseed for white millet.

Floridagirl said...

Ooh, thanks for the heads up! I'll get the feeders ready ASAP! The buntings are my favorite backyard birds.

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hey, Nana. I had the first one in my garden last year, a male and then a female. It's not just the millet, they like to have plenty of cover. Like you, I have a friend who has lots of them, and they hang out in dense, unruly shrubbery.

FG, do you have any tips for attracting them? Perhaps you can alert the PBOT when they arrive.

NanaK said...

I have lots of dense, unruly shrubbery and dense, huge oaks. Maybe this year they'll stop by the feeders. Thanks BTW for the fig info.

Rainforest Gardener said...

That radar bit was pretty amazing to learn! We used to have a painted bunting population in our backyard when I lived in Georgia, and they really are the most spectacular passerines imaginable. Even the females, normally drab in other species, have this beautiful bright green plumage that I find even more remarkable than the male's!

Terra Mirabilis said...

Hey, Nana and Steve. May we all be blessed with numerous colorful visitors this season.

Floridagirl said...

Like you mentioned above, the buntings are fairly common, just really shy. You need lots of trees and shrubs to attract them to your feeders. Then, if you want to see them, you have to hide your entire body and peek through the side of a window. I always learn what times they hit the feeders and am sitting by the window waiting. Do you see the photo on my profile? That's a painted bunting on a dormant plumeria in my garden. I love to take their photos, when I can manage it through glass.

Terra Mirabilis said...

FG: Nice photo! And I've been told exactly the same thing about "hiding" from them. Thanks.

Terra Mirabilis said...

This just in: Friends bicycling past stopped to say that there are painted buntings here all year round.

Meems said...

Hi Penny,
I've seen lots of painted buntings in north Florida but never in my yard. It is such a beautiful bird and from the information here I have all the right stuff. :-) Obviously something is missing but I don't know what. I sure hope you see some and can hide to photograph them.
Meems

Terra Mirabilis said...

Meems, it does seem to be hit or miss and I don't know why. They may visit feeders when you're just not there to see them. And as I said, last year was the first time I've seen them (first a male and later a female) in my yard, but my friend has many visiting her's because they flit around the interior of her neighbor's horrible Brazilian pepper.

They should have arrived in your part of Florida by now, if the PBOT's recordings are correct. Does anyone in your neighborhood have them?

Terra Mirabilis said...

The LBJs (little brown jobs) have arrived! In the garden today, I saw a black and white warbler as well as a yellow throated warbler within a few minutes of each other. There were plenty more, but I couldn't tell what they were from a distance.